• Neighbors battling squatters in North Seattle

    By: David Ham


    Neighbors said squatters living at a house at North 137th Street and Burke Avenue North are creating a mess and a very dangerous situation.
    A mount of garbage covers the backyard, and old cars and RVs are parked in the front of the house.
    "It's unreasonable what the neighbors are going through out here. We've had multiple break-ins, drug deals," said Maggie Andrews, who lives a few doors down from the house.
    Seattle Police told us that officers have been called out to the house at least 47 times since January.
    SPD said it is aware of the problems at the house and community police officers watch it closely.
    The owner of the house said her previous tenant allowed other people to move in without her authorization when they moved out.
    "It's scary for my kids to walk down that street past that house," said neighbor Samantha Rich.
    Now eight people are living in the house.
    They are staying at the house; even the owner said they are not allowed to live there.
    "No, I’m not squatting. I actually pay the bills here," said Joaquin Guana who lives in the house.
    However, it's not clear what bills he's paying because the electricity and the water have been cut off.
    The owner said she's never collected rent from anyone in the house either.
    According to court documents, the squatters owe $24,000 in rent.
    The city said even though the people inside never paid rent, because they established residency here, they can't be removed without a court order.
    The Department of Planning and Development said the home is supposed to be vacant and has cited the people for living there. Inspectors have been out and have issued fines for the trash.
    "People are afraid to have their windows open to go out in their yard, afraid to have their children outside. This is a war zone," said neighbor Lynn Catlett.

    Neighbors have raised at least $2,000 to hire an attorney for an eviction hearing.
    "The neighbors have tried a lot of different ways to find a solution," said Catlett.
    An eviction hearing is set for September 5th.
    A judge will decide if an eviction notice will be issued.
    When we asked Guana about the eviction hearing, he seemed to brush it off.
    "I believe it's a fraudulent matter, from what I understand," Guana added. "Since the moment I got here, I’ve been keeping this place in a forward progressive manner."

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